Unearthing personal strengths
“You will never know how much you can accomplish until you try. Never stop trying” – Lailah Gifty Akita
Earlier this year, I had the privilege to join our Year 8 students on the St Catherine’s Beyond Boundaries program to Walhalla, a township on the southern edge of the Victorian Alps.
As an educator, it was a great opportunity to learn more about students and witness the girls learning new skills and acquiring knowledge that are not necessarily available in an academic classroom setting.
The camp provided a unique educational adventure that so evidently taught valuable life skills helping build confidence, resilience and independence in our students. It was also tremendous fun for both teachers and students alike!
It was a great privilege to see some of the girls unearth personal strengths as they rose to the challenge of the action-packed three days.
The two nights were spent camping out in tents and students demonstrated great independence as they took responsibility with all aspects of the camp. From putting their own tents up, to preparing meals for the group. The students particularly relished the opportunity to prepare and cook all of their food.
The difficult weather conditions provided an extra challenge for the students, however, the relentless rain and freezing temperatures did not dampen the spirits of the students. Instead, the students demonstrated true resilience and showed real positivity in the face of a challenge. They threw on their wet weather gear and made the most of their shared experience, always encouraging their peers.
Students embraced the hiking element of the camp, learning some key navigation skills en-route. As well as hiking along a section of the Australian Alps Walking Track, students were required to carry their packs with them. These contained not only their own belongings but also the food and cooking equipment that the group would need when arriving at their next camp site. Students were taught key skills with regards to packing their packs, they quickly realised that they only needed to carry the essentials as extra items meant extra weight to carry!
A highlight of the camp for many was the seven kilometre raft along the Thomson River. For a number of students, this was their first experience of rafting and they embraced the opportunity to try a new sport. It required students to demonstrate good communication and team work skills in order to successfully navigate their raft down the rapids. Initial apprehension soon disappeared, as they confidently paddled down the river as a group.
Upon reflection, students discovered that it became easier to overcome the challenges of the program, as a collective group. This is perhaps a valuable life-long skill which they can all draw from again this term, at the Mitchell River Camp.
It was evident how both the independent and co-operative endeavours such as those provided on this camp, help nurture self-reliance and a belief in themselves, as they stepped outside their comfort zones, tried new things and took pride in their ability to act independently and look after themselves whilst in a safe and nurturing environment.
It is invaluable experiences such as these that will prepare our students to successfully overcome the many obstacles and hurdles they will experience in their lives.